You Implemented ERP—Now What?
There’s no doubt that ERP post go-live euphoria is a real thing. After months of hard work, custom development, challenges and team meetings, you finally have an ERP system in place and ready to work. All you may want to do is sit back and celebrate.
Be careful, though. All that celebration can mean that no one is investing time into getting the ERP software off the ground and ensuring the system doesn’t stumble out of the gate. ERP can end up crashing spectacularly when project teams don’t spend enough time thinking about what happens after go-live. ERP is an expensive investment after all, and you want it to be helpful for your company for years, so you need to consider the future, not just the go-live date.
Implementations can take months and involve huge swathes of an organization’s resources and time. That kind of investment can’t end the day your ERP is installed. The complacency could eventually bring the whole project crashing down as poorly trained employees abandon the software, or small and unnoticed errors blossom into fatal flaws. A smart ERP project team will have a solid plan in place for the ERP post go-live period. When building your post ERP implementation plan, make sure to keep these key factors in mind.
Have a Roadmap
Any ERP implementation roadmap should continue well beyond your intended go-live date. It might seem like overkill at the beginning of your project timeline. Why not just schedule the kickoff day on the horizon and then figure it out from there? Well, there’s a well-known quote about "failure to plan" for a reason. The ERP post go-live phase must be taken very seriously—any small errors or mistakes will be magnified by unfamiliarity with the software.
No matter how small the risk, anything can happen to your ERP. From server space errors to faulty customizations that perpetuate bad data, you need to plan for any scenario. While it’s impossible to truly predict everything that could happen, casting your predictive safety net wide will ensure you are more likely to bounce back from difficulties and keep the project rolling.
A good training strategy is the key to getting employees involved with the software, excited to use it and invested in its long-term success. Training isn’t just for the period leading up to your ERP implementation. Arguably, it is most crucial during that post go-live period. Going through use cases with every end user will ensure that they know how to perform their day to day tasks in line with best practices. By repeating and enforcing those best practices, you’ll ensure the data is correct and workflows are running smoothly in that critical post go-live period.
You should have already identified and trained an ERP super user during the selection and implementation process. This post-implementation period is where they can really shine. The super user acts as the facilitator between the software and your end users. They will be in the trenches to field common queries and diffuse frustration. That means you’ll need to ensure that your super user has the time they need to properly complete their tasks as the ERP expert during this critical period. Adjust their typical daily workload during this time accordingly—you don’t want to invest hundreds of training hours on a super user who has no time outside of their routine tasks to spread their knowledge!
Too often executives and employees believe that a new ERP system will provide a magic Band-Aid for all their problems—usually because of flashy sales presentations or poor communication of project goals. These aspirations can lead to dangerous disenchantment with the system when it doesn’t fulfill all those expectations. Resentment for the software will only result in poor user adoption and company-wide negativity about the ERP. Both factors that can cripple the success of the project, so you need to nip these feelings in the bud. If you have colleagues expressing disappointment or frustration in the post go-live period, don’t try and argue them down from their high expectations. Instead, redirect them to the original project goals and investigate whether a miscommunication might have happened. Point out that ERP software strengthens with longevity, more company data and solid user adoption—which can only happen if everyone invests in the software from day one of the project.
Finally, it’s important during the ERP post go-live phase that the project team go back and review the goals that were set at the beginning of the project. Audit the initial objectives against the actual outcomes so you can measure your success. Was the go-live date the same that you projected? Were there budget problems, or issues with third party consultants? ERP projects can be huge, incredibly complex and hard to predict, so some obstacles are to be expected. However, huge diversions from the original plans could spell trouble for the future of your software, as the system may not have been aligned properly to your business processes.
Mismatches between end-users, workflows and your ERP will only create trouble for you down the road, so it is best to root them out as early as possible in the ERP post go-live phase. Creating a broad look at how your project has evolved over time will also help you set appropriate goals for the future. If there’s still work to be done in certain modules—or extra training is needed—you will know, and you can build the extra time into deadlines and budgets long-term.
Despite its name, the post-implementation phase shouldn’t just be treated as an afterthought. It’s a critical transition period within your business, and needs careful planning and involvement from the entire team. Without a solid, documented plan, you could risk the long-term success of that expensive piece of software.
If you’re looking for advice on how to plan for ERP usage post go-live, or are currently struggling through a tough implementation, contact Datix today! We're an Epicor Platinum Partner with 20 years of ERP experience and have entered projects at a range of different points, from software selection to post-go live struggles. We can help your business, no matter the problem.